A decade of events that may have had an impact on your business
As we turn the calendar on another decade, we say goodbye to an eventful ten years that brought both good and not-so good things for Canadian businesses. From the ups and downs of global economies to tearful goodbyes to iconic companies such as Blockbuster and Toys ‘R Us and the rise of new institutions like Netflix and Uber, the past decade was fraught with change and surprises too numerous to mention in just one blog post. But here are some highlights.
Greek debt crisis: In 2010, Greece said it might default on the national debt it owed the European Union. In 2015 it nearly did – threatening the financial viability of the entire Eurozone and creating fears of triggering a global financial crisis. To avoid catastrophe, the EU and the International Monetary Fund loaned the country $240 billion euros in emergency funds – in return, demanding Greece institute austerity measures. It was the biggest financial rescue of a bankrupt country in history.
China’s economy: In 2015, China became the world's largest economy, according to the World Banks’ International Comparison Program, which measures a nation’s purchasing power parity (PPP) as well as its GDP. The designation meant China surpassed the U.S., which long held the coveted number one position. China is also the largest holder of U.S. debt, owning $1.2 billion of U.S. Treasuries – certainly an important factor in the ongoing U.S. – China trade wars.
Which brings us to…
U.S./China trade war: 2018 may have been the Year of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac, but for the U.S. and China economies it was the Year of the Tariffs. Citing “unfair trade practices”, U.S. President Trump shot first, imposing punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum and a laundry list of imports, including everything from solar panels to yes, washing machines. In turn, China imposed tariffs on U.S. imports like fruits, nuts and soybeans, as well as aircraft and automobiles. By mid-2019, total tariffs were expected to top out at about $900 billion U.S.
Speaking of Trump…
Trump presidency : To the surprise of many, 2016 saw the first TV reality star take the top spot in the White House. Fittingly, for the last three years, there’s been no lack of drama. Trump’s first Executive Order banned citizens of Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States. He tried to impede the federal investigation in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. And, of course, he’s just been impeached for his abuse of power (which, according to many, likely won’t stick.)
Trump also made good on his early promise of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). After two years of negotiations, the leaders of all three countries signed the new United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USCMA) on November 30, 2018. The agreement, which has yet to be ratified by Canada and the U.S., has been both lauded and criticized by Canadians, depending on who’s talking. (Two thumbs up from automakers, dairy farmers: not so much.)
Data Breaches: An offshoot of the rapid advent in technology (and its many life-altering benefits) is the ongoing and growing risk to the hundreds of millions of people who (willingly) hand over their personal information to the Internet. In 2013 hackers attacked Target and exposed the credit and debit card numbers of 40 million customer accounts. In 2017 hackers targeted Equifax, gaining access to social security numbers, credit card details and other personal information of more than 140 million Americans. And in 2018, millions of Facebook users learned their personal information had been leaked to Cambridge Analytica, which used it for political advertising purposes.
#MeToo movement: Officially founded in 2006 as a way to support women who survived sexual abuse, #MeToo gained momentum in 2017 when dozens of allegations of sexual abuse were made against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The movement led to the fall of many high-profile men in positions of power, including Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, Fox TV host Bill O’Reilly and, here in Canada, Jian Ghomeshi, longtime host of CBC radio’s Q, who was fired after being charged with sexual assault and sexual harassment of six women. #MeToo is credited with bringing the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace to the world’s attention.
What will the next decade bring? Fasten your seatbelts – and cheers to interesting times ahead!